Thanks to their always-listening functionality, there have been incidents where smart voice assistants such as Alexa are accidentally activated. But this latest instance is a bit different; it involves a family pet making an online shopping order.
Londoner Corinne Pretorius imagined the £10 (around $13.50) order for gift boxes that arrived at her home might have come from her husband Jan or eight-year-old son Jaden, but neither of them was responsible. It turned out that her African Grey Parrot Buddy was the one who placed the order.
It seems Buddy often mimics Pretorius’ voice and activated the speaker by saying “Alexa.” Amazing, he also managed to place an Amazon order for the golden gift boxes.
“I couldn’t believe it when I realized that it was Buddy who had used Alexa to make an Amazon order,” Pretorius told the Mirror. “None of us even knew how to use her for that.”
“We’ve had the Echo for about four months, and I use it to play music or make to-do lists, but I’ve never ordered anything online.”
“On Sunday we had popped out of the house for a couple of hours, but when I came home, I could hear Buddy talking but couldn’t quite make out what he was saying,” she said. “Then I heard Alexa say ‘sorry I didn’t quite get that.’ Buddy then said, ‘Alexa’ and some gibberish, and she replied, ‘What is it you want to order?'”
It was only when the 39-year-old received a notification of an Amazon order being placed that she started to realize what had happened.
“I hadn’t ordered anything and couldn’t figure out what had been ordered,” she said. “I asked my husband and my son who didn’t know what I was talking about so then I asked Alexa: ‘What was my last order?’ and she said it was these golden gift boxes. I laughed out loud because I knew then and there that it must have been Buddy.”
Amazon says that anyone making a voice purchase using Alexa must first confirm the order with a “yes” response. The company added that users could turn off voice shopping, or require confirmation codes be entered after each order is placed.
At the start of the year, a six-year-old Texan girl ordered a $170 doll house and four-pounds worth of cookies using an Amazon Dot. When reporting the story, a TV anchor said: “I love the little girl saying, ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.’” This statement caused complaints from some viewers, who said their smart speakers were activated and tried to make purchases when they heard the command. Amazon said at the time that it’s “nearly impossible to voice shop by accident,” unless you’re a parrot, it seems.